Barnes and Noble bookstores to launch textbook rental program

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January 29, 2010

2:55 AM

For students struggling with high textbook prices, a cheaper alternative will soon be available.

Barnes and Noble College Booksellers — the bookstore used by the College of William and Mary — will extend its services to include a multi-channel textbook rental program for college students. The new service will allow students to rent textbooks through their campus bookstore’s website, or directly from their campus bookstore.

Barnes and Noble created the program to accommodate students’ needs. Students who are non-majors, or those who take a class to fulfill a General Education Requirement, could rent textbooks without the high price tags associated with buying new and used books.

“We are in the business of providing students [with] different options,” Vice President of Books for Barnes and Noble College Booksellers Jade Roth said.

The program is in its pilot stage. In 2009, three of the 636 Barnes and Noble College Booksellers offered textbook rental programs. In January, Barnes and Noble introduced the program to an additional 23 schools, including the University of South Carolina, the University of Maryland and Ohio State University.

“We have always been about providing our students with convenient, cost-saving textbook options,”
President of Barnes and Noble College Booksellers Max Roberts said in a press release. “We think our rental program does just that, and [it] has the additional benefit of providing an online solution.”

Some businesses already help students avoid high costs by renting textbooks. Chegg.com is one of many e-commerce sites that rents textbooks to students who wish to save money.

“I feel that Chegg is simple and easy to use,” Arryka Jackson ’12 said. “All you have to do is go online and look up the ISBN numbers for the books you want. The prices are fair, and I rent my books for a third of the price.”

However, Barnes and Noble will meet with all affiliates, including the College of William and Mary, to evaluate the program’s success. Barnes and Noble plans to gradually introduce the program to additional schools. The company does not know when the program will begin at the College.

“The program is not right for every campus,” Roth said. “That’s why we’ll talk to each school individually.”

Students are not limited to science and math books, which are typically the most expensive.

“We don’t determine rentals based on discipline,” Roth said.

Students return rented books at the end of finals. Barnes and Noble then redistributes the books locally or at another store, where they will be reused as rental texts or resold as used books.

Gagan Jindal ’11 said she is in support of a rental program.

“Overall, I think the program a good idea,” Jindal said. “It helps cut down on costs, especially with rising tuition costs and the decreasing availability of financial aid.”

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